Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Baroque Enameled Ring set with Rubies and an Emerald

Western Europe (Spain or Italy?), c. 1650

Gold, enamel, rubies and emerald

  • 26.600 €
  • £23,900
  • $30,000
  • Baroque Enameled Ring set with Rubies and an Emerald

    Western Europe (Spain or Italy?), c. 1650
    Gold, enamel, rubies and emerald
    Weight 8 gr.; bezel 16.5 x 15.6 mm.; circumference 57.65 mm.; US size 8 ¼; UK size Q ½

    The bezel, riveted to an openwork base in white, pink, and pale blue enamel, displays a box-set, table-cut emerald surrounded by four rubies in the same cut and setting. Along the base is a decorative gold arcade in relief. The forked capital-like hoop ends have acanthus foliage in the same palette used for the base. The D-section hoop terminates in ornamental acanthus against black enamel at the shoulders. The thick layer of the enamel, still in excellent condition, and characteristic pastel colors refl ect the French style which was in vogue at the time, although similar rings also originated in Spain. The probable date of the ring is mid-seventeenth century.

    Reference number: 880

  • Emerald

    Hard, green precious stone , emeralds (and all forms of beryl) have large, perfect, six-sided crystals. Before the discovery of the new world, emeralds came mostly from Egypt; the finer emeralds come from the New World.

    Rubies

    Precious stones and a member of the corundum family, rubies range in color from the classic deep red to pink to purple to brown. Rubies are extremely hard; only diamonds are harder. Rubies were mined in Burma and sold through India in the Middle Ages to the Mediterranean.

    Birthstone

    January-Garnet: Safe travel and a speedy homecoming
    February-Amethyst: Power to overcome difficulties
    March-Jasper: Courage
    April-Diamond: Everlasting love
    May-Emerald: Love and fidelity
    June- Pearl: Purity, Celebrate a birth
    July- Ruby: Prosperity (if worn on the left hand); Everlasting love (if worn on the right)
    August-Peridot and Sardonyx: Strength and growth; Happiness in a relationship
    September-Sapphire: Sincerity and faithfulness
    October-Opal and Tourmaline: Confidence and hope
    November-Citrine and Yellow Topaz: Strength and friendship
    December-Turquoise: Protects against evil and ill health

  • Bezel

    The upper, protruding part of a finger ring (excluding the hoop and the shoulders) often set with a gemstone.

    Enamel

    Siliceous substance fusible upon metal, either transparent or opaque and with or without color, but it is usually employed to add decorative color to metal. Enamel can be applied in many different ways, including cloisonné , champlevé , and plique à jour .

    Box setting

    A box-shaped bezel setting either in the form of a quadrangle or rectangle with a closed underside.

    Hoop

    Also called the shank, the rounded part of the ring that encircles the finger and connects to the bezel at the shoulders.

    Gemstone

    Gemstone (also called a precious stone) is a mineral that is valuable, rare and often beautiful.

    Table-cut

    One of the earliest styles of gem cutting, based on the natural octahedron, one of the forms in which diamond crystals occur. The top of the octahedron is cut off to leave a flat surface with the pointed half of the octahedron below.

     

  • Renaissance & Baroque

    Considerable evidence exists concerning the making and wearing of rings in the Renaissance. Their appearance in painted portraits confirms that they continued to be worn on multiple fingers, suspended from chains and ribbons, sewn onto sleeves or hats, and so forth. When not worn they were sometimes stored on parchment rolls or in neatly compartmentalized boxes, known from documents and paintings. In the Renaissance, the medieval practice of using uncut stones was abandoned in favor of faceting; table-cut facets were among the earliest and most popular, but other cuts rapidly followed. Making rings that would show off best the qualities of the stone became a skill that exercised the virtuosity of cutters, chasers, engravers, enamellers, and goldsmiths sometimes in collaboration. The highly sculpturesque quality of most Renaissance and Baroque rings can be compared with the striving for greater veracity that characterizes the monumental arts of this period.

    By far the most common type of ring from the Renaissance was the boxed bezel set with faceted stones in highly ornate geometric bezels with intricate articulated shoulders, sometimes with protruding volutes, the whole richly enameled. Surviving drawings for rings by sixteenth-century goldsmith-designers Etienne Delaune, Pierre Woeiriot, and René Boyvin record variations on this type. Often reviving classical subjects and motifs, numerous cameos and intaglios also date from this era, produced under illustrious, often princely, patronage. By the sixteenth century the careers of famous gem-cutters can be reconstructed; they include Valerio Belli, Alessandro Cesati, Alessandro Masnago, and Francesco Torino. However, few Renaissance cameos and intaglios appear in their original mounts, because they were often made not as rings but rather as virtuoso carvings, kept in drawers in cabinets and taken out and admired by Renaissance princes.

    During Elizabethan and Tudor times in England, commonplace books (the earliest dated 1596) were used by goldsmiths and their customers to provide appropriate inscriptions for rings. References to posy rings (from “poésie” or poetry) abound in literature of the period; for example, in Shakespeare's Hamlet (III, ii, 162): “Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring.” The discovery of the New World also wrought changes in the evolution of rings, as it did for painting, because new stones became available. The newly prized diamond, expensive then as now, was often imitated by the similarly favored rock crystal. Extensive surviving pictorial evidence is useful because it contributes to a more precise dating and localization of rings from this era.

     

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Baroque Enameled Ring set with Rubies and an Emerald

Western Europe (Spain or Italy?), c. 1650
Gold, enamel, rubies and emerald
Weight 8 gr.; bezel 16.5 x 15.6 mm.; circumference 57.65 mm.; US size 8 ¼; UK size Q ½

USD $30,000

The bezel, riveted to an openwork base in white, pink, and pale blue enamel, displays a box-set, table-cut emerald surrounded by four rubies in the same cut and setting. Along the base is a decorative gold arcade in relief. The forked capital-like hoop ends have acanthus foliage in the same palette used for the base. The D-section hoop terminates in ornamental acanthus against black enamel at the shoulders. The thick layer of the enamel, still in excellent condition, and characteristic pastel colors refl ect the French style which was in vogue at the time, although similar rings also originated in Spain. The probable date of the ring is mid-seventeenth century.

Reference number: 880

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